Maria’s Sunday Paper: The Importance of a Spiritual Break
A few weekends ago, I went to visit my brother Bobby and his family in Wyoming. He left LA about two years ago, and at the time, his departure really hit me hard. I liked having him as a neighbor and so close by.
But my essay today isn’t really about why he moved or how his move affected me. Instead, it’s about something he said to me on my first day in his new home.
He said: “When I woke up this morning, I heard your voice downstairs and I said, ‘Everything is good.’ Your voice sounds like home. I’ve heard it my whole life and it makes me happy.”
I was taken aback by his words. The idea that my voice could make another human being feel content and feel at home deeply moved me.
My older brother and I are 18 months apart. He often kids me that people think he’s my younger brother (even though I already have three other younger brothers). I always say that’s because I’m more mature — not older-looking — but whatever. If it makes him happy to think that, then I’ll just go along with it. I’m a good sister that way. 😉
I enjoyed getting to spend time with my brother in his new home. But what really stayed with me after my visit was that concept of what makes a person feel “at home.” It got me thinking about the fact that there are so many different ways that we can define home and choose to live our lives.
I was raised to believe that the reason we’re here on Earth is to work 24/7 on behalf of making a difference in the lives of others. My parents always said, “You are here to change the world for the better. That’s your job, so get on it.” In their minds, anything short of that was a waste of time and talent. Thus, I made their ethos my own.
Seeing my brother and his family leave the hustle and bustle of LA to go live on a farm really got me thinking. Should one really work until their dying day? Or, is there something to the idea of embracing another way of living?
Where is home? What makes you feel at home?
I’ve always been fascinated by people who followed their hearts and sought to answer this question for themselves, even when they were unsure where it would lead them.
I know people who’ve up and left lucrative careers on Wall Street, only to make a fraction of what they were making in the social justice space. I know people who were passionate about law, then up and left that life to become preachers. I know people who were school teachers and then decided to run for political office. The list goes on and on.
Being in conversation with your gut, your heart and your intuition is hard when you are consumed with so many other responsibilities in your life. Paying the bills. Putting food on the table. Caring for young kids or sick parents. Trying to keep up with the news and social media and everything else in our 24/7, fast-paced society. Sometimes it’s all too much. Sometimes people decide they can’t continue living in the rat race and just up and change course.
Last August, I took what I called a spiritual break. It was a break from my work at NBC News, a break from my work at The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, and a break from my beloved Sunday Paper. I went back east during that month and spent time reconnecting with my brothers. I wanted real quality time — time without being digitally connected. I think I did a pretty good job of disconnecting, all the while knowing that I was blessed to be able to step off the rollercoaster of life for just a little while.
Well, I’m going to do it again this August. And this time, I’m hoping to do an even better job at taking a step away from it all. I’ll be traveling to a place far away so that I can travel further within myself. I look forward to getting time to reflect on how blessed I am, all the while being aware that I have less time in front of me than I do behind me. I also look forward to spending time away with myself, while knowing that my children are happy and busy with their own dreams and lives right now (at least they are as I write this).
I look forward to asking myself, “What makes me feel at home? Am I doing the right thing for me? Am I in the right place and space? Am I using my voice the way I should? Am I in line with my purpose?” Or, “Is there a move — be it internal or external — that I’ve never had the time to even contemplate, simply because I didn’t think I had the freedom to do so?”
Maybe. Maybe not. I look forward to finding out.
Rumi is of my favorite mystics and, long ago, he said something very profound that has always stayed with me. He said, “What you are looking for is looking for you.”
Do you know what you are looking for? Do you know what is looking for you?
That’s what my August is going to be about, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Enjoy the rest of your summer and The Sunday Paper will return after Labor Day!
Best Buddies is a cause that’s close to my heart and that’s all about inclusion. For those of you in or near California, I hope you’ll join Team Maria on Saturday, September 8, as we ride, run and walk in benefit of the Best Buddies Challenge at Hearst Castle! “Power on, power forward” with us as we raise awareness and funds in support of Best Buddies’ mission of friendship and inclusion for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
WHAT OTHERS HAVE BEEN THINKING
The Architects of Change below will inspire you and make you think.
AUTHOR SHARON SALZBERG EXPLAINS HOW LETTING GO OF CONFORMITY REVEALS OUR TRUE SELVES
I love this exclusive piece by Sunday Paper columnist Sharon Salzberg, who uses a Ram Dass parable to illustrate why we must stop struggling with conformity in order to relax, let go, and discover who we really are.
AUTHOR TONY SCHWARTZ SAYS “RELAX! YOU’LL BE MORE PRODUCTIVE”
Not only is taking a break important for personal rejuvenation. It’s also essential to job productivity, according to author Tony Schwartz, founder and CEO of The Energy Project. Find out why Tony says we all need to learn how to “relax.”
ACTIVIST PARKER PALMER SHARES WHY INNER CONTEMPLATION IS SO NECESSARY
Author and Architect of Change Parker Palmer is a renowned writer, speaker and activist. In this excerpt from his latest book “On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old,” Parker explains the importance of contemplation as a way of “penetrating illusion and touching reality.”
JOURNALIST KATJA PANTZAR EXPLORES HOW FINLAND’S UNIQUE CULTURE KEEPS ITS PEOPLE HAPPY AND HEALTHY
In her book “The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu,” journalist Katja Pantzar documents her move to the Nordic country of Finland and how she discovered the daily practices that make Finns one of the happiest and healthiest populations in the world.
AUTHOR JOANNA COLES TALKS ABOUT FINDING TRUE LOVE AND CONNECTION IN THE DIGITAL AGE
I had a fascinating conversation this week with Architect of Change Joanna Coles, former editor of Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, who spent several years researching her new book, “Love Rules: How to Find a Real Relationship in a Digital World.” She explains how we can connect on a deeper level with others and ourselves in the modern age.
THIS WEEK, WE SHINE A LIGHT ON… FR. BILL CREED
Architect of Change of the Week: Fr. Bill Creed, Chaplain and founder of The Ignatian Spiritual Project
How He’s Moving Humanity Forward: Fr. Bill Creed, along with homeless advocate Ed Shurna, joined forces to create an experience to help build community, hope and transformation among those experiencing homelessness and addiction. The Ignatian Spiritual Project offers the homeless, as well as men and women in recovery from addiction, the opportunity to change their lives. Ignatian spirituality and Ignatian retreats are an effective and important resource in laying a foundation of hope which can lead to further and long-lasting transformation.
NEWS TO GET YOU THINKING…
1. After Hurricane Katrina, This Mom Started a Garden to Her Feed Family. Now, She’s Feeding Neighbors in Need: I love this story about Dera Duplessis, who turned a personal tragedy into her mission to help people in need.
3. Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement and UC-Irvine Fund Research Study into Why Women Are More Likely to Get Alzheimer’s: I’m so excited for this partnership between the nonprofit I founded and UCI-MIND. Together, the two groups awarded a $100,000 grant to two researchers to further study the sex disparity in Alzheimer’s diagnoses.
5. Study Finds Four-Day Work Week Increases Productivity: Ever since the Industrial Revolution, most employers have followed a 40-hour work week. But according to this New York Times article, a new study challenges the benefit of that model. The report explains how a New Zealand firm recently experimented with lettings its employees work four days a week and found that it boosted workplace productivity and improved its team’s overall health and well-being.
6. Go Ahead and Send That Thank You Note: This is an etiquette to which I always subscribe. New research reveals that the recipients of an emailed “thank you” felt much more appreciative than the writers expected.
7. Want Your Kids to Become Caring Adults? Get Them to Spend More Time Outdoors: According to a story from the Washington Post, raising your kids with an appreciation for nature and wildlife can lead to them becoming more empathetic adults.
8. Teen With Cancer Donates His Make-A-Wish to Others in Need: The selflessness of this young man is truly inspirational. When Timothy Bourbeau, who is diagnosed with terminal bone cancer, was approached by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he turned down a gift for himself and requested that Playstation game consoles be delivered to a local pediatric hematology and oncology unit instead.
Sunday Paper Ambassador Lisa Waschka suggested this quote from Harry Emerson Fosdick as our Sunday Reflection this week. As I write in my essay, it’s so important to take a break and reflect in order to move forward. Thanks, Lisa!
INSPIRATION FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
Visit the shop on MariaShriver.com to get Maria’s book “I’ve Been Thinking,” her coloring book for Alzheimer’s “Color Your Mind,” the Maria candle, Rivet Revolution bracelets benefiting The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, her new Maria BrainHQ program, and more!
BECOME A SUNDAY PAPER AMBASSADOR
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We want you to help us expand our digital paper route by telling people who we are and what we are putting out into the world. Become a VIP Sunday Paper Ambassador today and join a group of Architects of Change who are making a difference and move humanity forward!
THE SUNDAY PAPER PROUDLY SUPPORTS THE WOMEN’S ALZHEIMER’S MOVEMENT
The Sunday Paper elevates the voices and ideas of those who are seeking to make a difference and move humanity forward. To that end, we proudly support the work of The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement, which is making a difference by fighting Alzheimer’s and working to change the future for all minds. for Minds
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